Like lawmakers in most other states, Georgia legislators were in the budget-cutting mode this year. However, many programs fared better than Gov. Deal’s January request due to an increase in state revenues.

The UGA Cooperative Extension Service was reduced $2.05 million from FY 2011, but the General Assembly added $400,000 more than the governor’s original request for the 2012 budget. The Experiment Stations were cut by $2.3 million from FY 2011, but $600,000 was added by the Legislature for FY 2012.

Funding also was reduced for Agricultural Education by $322,000, which was less than the $644,000 proposed in January.

The Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission was reduced by roughly 9 percent, and there was no funding in the budget for the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center.

Other priority issues for the Georgia Farm Bureau was animal agriculture, including opportunities to increase support for food animal veterinary services in the state and seeking additional avenues to control feral hogs.

Below are bills that addressed this priority issue during the 2011 legislative session:

• HB 60 — Provide a State Veterinary Education Board. This bill creates a State Veterinary Education Board that could assist with loans of applicants who have completed a doctor of veterinary medicine program. Only persons whose veterinary medicine practices in this state include food animals will be eligible for loan forgiveness.

• HB 277 — Hunting and Baiting Deer and Feral Hogs. This bill allows for hunting deer and feral hogs over feed or bait in the southern hunting region of Georgia.

HB 485 — Feral Hogs. This bill makes it illegal to release feral hogs into the wild and enacts penalties for those who break the law.

phollis@farmpress.com